Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi may find herself in the middle of an intra-party conflict as early as next week, as a group of powerful House Democrats led by House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) is planning to introduce a measure condemning the global, anti-Semitic “boycott-divest-sanction” (or BDS) movement that calls for countries, corporations, and individuals to cut Israel off economically.
Several House members, including Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), are vocal supporters of the BDS movement, and while other younger, more progressive Democrats haven’t spoken on the issue specifically, they’re likely to be at least sympathetic to the cause.
But Nadler and Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) told Politico that they believe the time has come for the House to make a real statement in support of America’s ally, Israel, and they believe the anti-BDS bill is the right way to do it.
“In a letter to colleagues Thursday, Nadler and Schneider described the global attempt to economically isolate Israel as an ‘overly-simplistic and one-sided approach,’ Politico reported.
“Its goal is Israel’s elimination, not the criticism of any particular policy of Israel,” the pair says about the BDS movement — a statement that is certain to make both Omar and Tlaib bristle.
Omar has regularly expressed support for BDS since being elected, though she claimed on the campaign trail that she had no love for the movement. Haaretz reported, shortly after Omar’s election, that a spokesperson with her campaign told a website called “MuslimGirl” that Omar fully backed BDS, and that “she has fought to make sure people’s right to support it isn’t criminalized.”
Tlaib is so passionate about BDS that she unleashed the historically anti-Semitic “dual loyalty” smear against her Congressional colleagues in the Senate when an anti-BDS bill came up for a vote there earlier this year. At the time, The Daily Wire reported that Tlaib tweeted:
They forgot what country they represent. This is the U.S. where boycotting is a right & part of our historical fight for freedom & equality. Maybe a refresher on our U.S. Constitution is in order, then get back to opening up our government instead of taking our rights away.
Ultimately, most Senate Democrats dropped their support for the anti-BDS bill after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pressured their colleagues to stand up for Americans’ “First Amendment rights” by refusing to condemn BDS outright.
“While we do not support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, we remain resolved to our constitutional oath to defend the right of every American to express their views peacefully without fear of or actual punishment by the government,” the pair wrote.
Only four Democrats voted with Republicans to advance the BDS bill.
The new House bill will be a true challenge for Pelosi, who was forced to back down just two weeks ago when she and other high-profile Dems proposed a simple bill expressing unqualified support for the State of Israel, in opposition to comments made by Rep. Ilhan Omar to a group of progressive activists. Democrats are likely to be split on the issue and may end up at odds publicly, as they were over the previous efforts.
Nadler and Schneider say they’ll be bringing their bill to the floor as early as next week.